Friday, January 28, 2011

Rating Quality Hotel Grand, Kongsberg Norway

View of old Kongsberg from my hotel window

I looked forward to revisit Quality Hotel Grand in Kongsberg, as I remember it to be a well run hotel. Even though I got a large suite, I am afraid to say that it did not add up to a grand score. There were a few details that spoiled the experience.


Rating Quality Hotel Kongsberg: BBBB- (3,84 points)
  • Location: BBBBB
  • Service: BBBB
  • Room: BBBB
  • Breakfast BBBB
  • Facilities: BBBB
  • Price: BB
Quality Hotel Grand, Kongsberg is located in the old scenic Kongsberg city centre, just a short walk away from the railway and bus station.

Generously spaced hallway with hardwood walls
From here you may admire the waterfalls made by the Numedalslågen river flowing from the interior of Buskerud county reaching the ocean by the seaport of Larvik.

Good service provided by staff in the reception, staff in restaurant a little slow to remove the used china after breakfast making it hard to find a table in the morning.

I was given a room on the 5th floor, or I was amazed to find that it was a suite.

I entered a generously sized hallway leading into a living space with a small sofa, chair, desk and flat screen TV. Two windows were bay windows with a smart separate seating area.

The bed room was located as an angle of the room, dominated by a large double bed. Here you had another flat screen TV on the wall facing the bed. There were additional storage space for clothes.

Living space with smart design features
The separate bath and shower room were located in the middle of the apartment. The living space I had at Quality Hotel Grand, Kongsberg was probably the largest I have had until now as hotel guest.

It provided good comfort. A large working space where you could enjoy free internet access, a very good bed with soft cushions in abundance and a large bath tub to immerse into.

The rooms had a pleasant colour scheme and other design features made the suite into a cozy den to relax in.

Sleeping area with comfortable double bed
Now we are are coming to maintenance. As you see from the picture you would believe that everything was spick and span, but it was not. As I entered I felt s small chill. The days in Kongsberg were bitterly cold and I felt a draft that I did not like.

I found the reason quickly. One of the windows were not possible to close. The hotel had made a great effort to redesign the room, but the windows on one of the sides were old and cracked. This was a grim contrast to all the new upgrading of the rest of the room.

I reported this to the reception and they solved it by placing a large book in the window post to keep the window shut. Later the wind blew the window open, and I had to demand that they did something with the window, which they finally did.

I got my stay paid, but if I had paid it myself, I would certainly ask for a refund.

Recently renovated bathroom
The room was well cleaned, and with hardwood flooring and tiles it did not feel as stuffy as many rooms with carpet do.

A full breakfast buffet was included in the price at Quality Hotel Grand, Kongsberg, and it was very generous in what you could choose from.

Eggs, bacon, and sausages for those of you that want a trucker style meal. Cold cuts, cheese, pates and much more for ye traditional Norwegian breakfast sandwich. Healthy options as cereals, yogurt, and fruit. Coffee, tea and juice.

Fried eggs is no good idea for a breakfast buffet. I ended up cold and unappetizing. I would have preferred hot scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Quality Hotel Grand, Kongsberg may offer the following facilities to paying guests:
  • Free Full Breakfast
  • Free Wireless High Speed Internet Access
  • Hair Dryer
  • Health Club/Spa
  • Guest Laundry
  • Massage Therapist
  • Free Newspaper Mon-Fri
  • 100% Smoke Free Hotel
  • Outdoor Parking
  • Pet-friendly Hotel
  • Indoor Pool
  • Restaurant
  • Room Service
  • Sauna
  • Pay-Per-View Movies
  • Cable/Satellite TV
  • Public Whirlpool/Hot Tub
A night in a suite at Quality Hotel Grand, Kongsberg will cost you much. The rate in January / February 2011 is NOK 2400, clearly a steep price, considering the lack of maintenance I was offered. I would certainly recommend the hotel to close the gap in maintenance found in my room, before expecting anyone to pay this much for this room.

Address:
Quality Hotel Grand, Kongsberg
Christian Augusts gt 2, 3611 Kongsberg, Norway
Phone:+47 32 77 28 00
Fax:+47 32 73 41 29
E-mail: kongsberg@choice.no
www.choicehotels.no


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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rating Sakura III, Playa del Ingles

Elegant Japanese paneling in light wood
Fine dining is hard to find at Playa del Ingles, even though every kind of cuisine is present at this large resort. Japanese was probable one of the best choices we took. Food at Sakura III was good and reasonably priced.

Rating Sakura III, Playa del Ingles: BBBB (3,94 points)
  • Location: BBB+
  • Service: BBBB
  • Interior & atmosphere: BBBB
  • Food: BBBB
Street scene, Playa del Ingles
Sakura is located in Playa del Ingles, just a short walk way away from the Yumbo centre.

The area is just as most of the other neighbourhoods of this resort, filled up with larger hotels and apartment buildings. No charm or character, that is, but that is what you get when traveling to most tourist destinations of the Canary Islands. It is the sun, sand and sea that you're there for.
Seating with good distance to neighbouring tables
We were seated in a classic Japanese interior. Wall covered in panels in light wood. The wooden theme was continuated in the furniture. Clean tiled floors.

The interior did feel a little stripped down and sterile, but it was a welcome contrast to many other tasteless restaurant interiors found at Playa del Ingles.

We were well seated, with good distance to other tables. Not that it mattered, really, as there were just a few present eating. The tables were elegantly set with white china, wine glasses, napkins and cutlery. 

We were quite alone in the restaurant during our meal. That meant that the staff could concentrate on the few guests that were there. We chose from a large menu translated to most major languages, and we were served with no delay.
Delicious, rich fish broth
I ordered a noodle soup with seafood and crispy duck with soft pancakes. Two good choices.

The soup was served in a brightly coloured blue and white bowl. It was based on a rich seafood broth with a generous amounts of mussels, prawns and calamaris added.

Seafood and noodles perfectly prepared,  noodles being slightly undercooked "al dente" and seafood tender, not tough, due to short cooking in the broth.

Pleasant seafood flavour, salted in moderation. Good balance to sweet and sour contrasting flavours.
Dinky pancakes filled with crispy duck

The duck was served "Peking style", i.e.  crispy slices of duck wrapped in thin soft pancakes with sweet sauce and freshly cut spring onions.

This was the ready-to-go version, as I have previously been served all the ingredients separately and had to assemble the whole dish myself. For all I know it may be a separate Japanese version.

The "rolls" were beautifully arranged on a large white plate surrounding an ornate flower made from carrot. Beautifully crispy duck meat meets soft rich dough! Yum. The rich bean based sweetness meets the fresh spring onion! Yum! This was seriously good.

We enjoyed a good cold beer to it all, and it was, as usual perfect to the Japanese style food. 

Sakura III certainly delivered the Japanese experience we were looking for. A well balanced and tasty meal at a reasonble price. Definitely one out a few to recommend at Playa del Ingles.


Address:

Sakura III
Avenida Tirajana, 1, Playa del Ingles, Grand Canary, Spain

See location of Sakura III on this map



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Other Japanese food experiences on Enjoy Food & Travel   

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Charter Street Burying Ground, Salem MA


The town of Salem in Massachusetts is the proclaimed witch capital of the United States. This due to the gruesome witchcraft trials that took place here in the 17th century. One of the main judges in these trials is buried in Charter Street Burying Ground that dates back to 1637. 




HERE LYES INTER'D Y(E) BODY COLO(NEL) IOHN HATHORNE ESQR AGED 76 YEARS WHO DIED MAYY 10 1717. 

This headstone marks the spot where John Hathorne was buries in 1717. He  was born in August 1641 as son of Major William Hathorne an early settler of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The family's ancestral name may come from Bray Berks England

John Hathorne was a merchant in Salem, and served as an executor (often portrayed as a judge) in the Salem witch trials, and the only one who never repented of his actions. Nathanael Hawthorne, the author of the Scarlet Letter was one of his descendants. 


HERE LYETH BURIED YE BODY OF CAPT RICHARD MORE 84 YEARS DIED 1692 MAYFLOWER PILGRIM 

Richard More was the only surviving Pilgrim child of four that his father Commander Samuel More left aboard the Mayflower in the Care of Carver, Winslow and Brewster. Only Richard survived this act of abandonment that as nothing less than a family tragedy. 
Their father Samuel More, was married aged 16 to his third cousin Catherine More, the heiress of  Larden, then aged 23, "presumably in order to keep that property in the family.  Four children were born and baptised as Samuel's before he became aware of "the common fame of the adulterous life of said Katherine More with one Jacob Blakeway."  He also came to note the resemblance between most of the children to the said Jacob Blakeway.  
He subsequently divorced Catherine and rejected the children, Samuel ultimately arranged with "honest and religious people" to transport them into the new world; to see that they were properly lodged, maintained fed and clothed; that at the end of seven years they should have 50 acres apiece. It was his desire to remove them from "these partes," where   "great blotts and blemishes may fall upon them."
Sadly only one child, Richard, survived. With a marred paternal heritage and a mother who callously abandoned him, he nevertheless arrived in the New World with a heritage that traced to Malcolm III, King of Scotland 1058-1093.

See more on the More family in the United States here

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FEBRUAR 2011: Enjoy Food & Travel on luxury mini cruise to Kiel

Photo: Color Fantasy at sunrise in Kiel by GeorgHH

In February 2011 Enjoy Food & Travel will indulge in a mini luxury cruise on Color Fantasy that sails between Oslo and Kiel in northern Germany.  

M/F Color Fantasy  is is currently the world's second largest cruise ferry, surpassed only by her sister ship, the MS Color Magic.

Photo: Kiel - St, Nikolai Kirche by Arne List
We got a special offer as members of the ferry company's Color Club, and decided to take the option to upgrade to the ship's largest cabins. The Colour Suites with seaview are found on level 9, 10 and 11. It is 24,5 square meters. The price includes free entry to the spa & fitness centre, breakfast in the Observation club and free minibar.  

I have traveled with this cruisers only once, and I found the experience awesome. Through the ship you may walk on a long marble pedestrian walkway with restaurants and bars on each side. The most exclusive restaurant is found at the rear of the ship. There is also onboard gambling and shows.

The crossing takes 20 hours. You arrive in Kiel in the German province of Schleswig-Holstein and you stay on shore for 4 hours, before returning to the boat.

I look forward to some finer grocery shopping in Kiel, as well as doing some duty free purchase on board. I will keep you posted on our crossing mid February 

Earlier ferry experiences on Enjoy Food & Travel: